By TONY EIERDAM
Entering the “second season” the Mineral Wells Rams will face the Iowa Park Hawks to open the Class 3A, Region I playoffs.
All games in the best-of-three series will be played at the Decatur High School baseball field, which is not located at the new Decatur High School. The baseball field is located at the old high school, now the middle school, just west of Highway 287 and south of Highway 380.
Game one will be at 7 p.m. today, with game two at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Game three, if necessary, will follow game two.
Rams head coach Bret Barrick said earlier in the week he will start the series with new No. 2 starting pitcher Aaron Wheeler, who has had good success in recent outings, and on Saturday will start game two with all-state lefty Matt “Moose” Tincher.
Barrick has several options for a third starting pitcher, and he hopes to use Tincher in relief in either game one or three, if a third game is necessary.
“Pitching has been a strength for us this year, and we have plenty of kids who have started at least one game,” Barrick said. “We aren’t worried if we go to a third game.”
Barrick feels Iowa Park will start its No. 1 pitcher to begin the series.
“Jared Biddy is their No. 1 pitcher, and he will be low 80s with his fast ball and he throws a nice curve ball, and he throws both for strikes,” Barrick said. “Their No. 2 is Jace Langen, and he will be in the upper 70s with his fast ball and his curve ball will be lower 70s. He can throw both pitches for strikes.”
Barrick said the Hawks are a good hitting team despite not having much home run power.
“They put the ball in play,” he said. “They put pressure on the defense to make plays.
“They are not a ‘small ball’ team, they are a team that makes contact up and down the batting order.
“We are kind of like that ourselves.”
Barrick pointed out that the Hawks are solid defensively, with no real weaknesses in the infield or outfield.
“They have a solid infield and a good outfield,” Barrick said. “Like all high school teams they do make mistakes, but overall they are pretty good and limit their errors to a minimum.”
Barrick feels starting pitching will be the main tangible in the series. The coach had success last year by waiting until the second game of a series to throw his big lefty. In 2012, the Rams made it to the fourth round of the playoffs.
“If our pitching is on it will be a good weekend for us,” he said. “Throwing Matt second worked for us last year.
“If we can get through their No. 1 – assuming they will throw their No. 1 (today) – Matt can come in and close it out and start game two.
“If we go to a game three, if we didn’t need Matt to close on Friday, we might can use him in relief in game three after he pitches game two, depending on how many pitches he threw in his start.
“That’s what we are looking at. You would like to not have to do that because you don’t want to overwork a kid. But we will keep an eye on his pitch count and communicate with him on how he feels.”
Barrick said he likes where the team is at overall as they head into the playoffs.
“This team plays hard, and I like that,” he said. “We are getting better defensively. We have a tendency to make a mistake here and there, so I would like to see us more consistent defensively.
“We normally hit the ball hard, but lately we have been popping up more than I would like us to. We need to be more consistent at the plate.
“We are making good contact, we are just not driving the baseball like I know we can. I want the kids to concentrate on driving the baseball in this series.
“Again, pitching has been our strength all year long, but we need the other parts of our overall game to compliment our pitching.”
MWHS to face Iowa Park in best-of-three bi-district series at Decatur; opener today at 7 p.m. with series continuing on Saturday
By TONY EIERDAM
- Local Sports
Swimming to State
KELLER – The Mineral Wells Water Moccasins are heading to the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation's state meet in College Station, July 31-Aug. 3, after an outstanding performance in the Region 4 Championships that saw seven local swimmer qualify.
Mineral Wells summer track sends 11 to state meet after strong regionals
THE COLONY – The future continues to look bright for Mineral Wells track and field, as 11 members of legendary head coach Jackie Harvey's summer track club punched their tickets to the TAAF state meet in College Station – to be held July 31-Aug. 3 – after a dominant showing at the regional meet in The Colony, July 18-19.
FWIW: Good, clean hate – Ranking the area's best rivalry games of the 2014 football season
By CLINT FOSTER
Football season is fast approaching and with it those glorious games between teams that love to hate each other, which we call rivalries.
I'm speaking, of course, about sports hate – the only beautiful kind. It's the stuff built on history and tradition that inspires simply the fiercest and most entertaining games of every season.
Palo Pinto County and the surrounding area have no shortage of fierce football rivalries.
The University Interscholastic League's realignment often causes new rivalries to be born and old ones to be rekindled. But which rivalries are the area's very best for 2014? The one's you circle your calendar for and make sure you don't miss.
I can think of at least 10.
So, for what it's worth, here's my list of the area's best, can't-miss football rivalries of the upcoming 2014 season.
Local Bowlers Roundup set for first weekend of August
Mineral Wells Women's Bowling Alliance invites you to join them Aug. 3 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Mountaineer Lanes for their second annual Bowlers Roundup. The event will feature snacks, tips from the pros, information on league bowling and two hours of great exercise.
Something in the water
Mineral Wells is well known as the home of Crazy Water, and by all accounts the city's swim team went absolutely berserk in their one and only home meet of the summer on Saturday.
Throughout the summer, the Mineral Wells Rams have been hard at work preparing for football season.
Hooks and Slices 7/11
In the Holiday Hills Country Club Guys and Dolls tournament, locals Denny and Sherry Hall turned in rounds of 77 and 73 to take first place in the opening round and second place on Sunday in the fourth flight. George and Linda Hutton turned in two solid rounds to place both days. The twosome shot 71 and 72 to take first place on Saturday and second place on Sunday in the second flight.
GRAPEVINE – The Mineral Wells High School cheerleaders attended the Universal Cheerleaders' Association's cheer camp in Grapevine two weeks ago and proved that spirit will definitely be high at every Rams and Lady Rams sporting event this coming school year.
Millsap selects Lee as new head volleyball coach
MILLSAP – The board of trustees at Millsap ISD recently announced their hire of Denise Lee as the new head volleyball coach for Millsap High School.
Waldrum leads the way in MW's latest swim meet
TROPHY CLUB – The Mineral Wells Water Moccasins city swim team took to the pool once again June 28 and showed valiant effort against some tough competition at its latest meet in Trophy Club.
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- Swimming to State